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Past tense   /pæst tɛns/   Listen
Past tense

noun
1.
A verb tense that expresses actions or states in the past.  Synonym: past.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Past tense" Quotes from Famous Books



... brusquerie, but in passages which the Maestro has marked "con passione" nothing can exceed the elegance of his attitudes, and the pleasing dignity of his gestures. After, par exemple, the recitativi, what a pretty empressement he gave (alas! that we must now speak in the past tense!) to the tonic or key-note, by locking his arms in each other over his poitrine—by that after expansion of them—that clever alto movement of the toes—that apparent embracing of the fumes des lampes—how touching! Then, while the sinfonia of the andante was in ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 1, August 28, 1841 • Various

... change, not even by punishment—to say nothing of doing it by pity." Dickens' Pecksniff "always said of what was very bad that it was very natural." But it has been the glory of the Gospel that it could speak in the past tense of some at least of the sins of its adherents: "such were some of you." Individual regeneration will ever remain a large part of God's work through His Church. Unless we can raise the dead in sin to life in Christ, we ...
— Some Christian Convictions - A Practical Restatement in Terms of Present-Day Thinking • Henry Sloane Coffin

... my parishioners," the minister was saying for the comforting of Rebecca Mary. Unconsciously he used the past tense, as one speaks of those close to death. It was well enough, for already big, gaunt, white Thomas Jefferson was in ...
— Rebecca Mary • Annie Hamilton Donnell

... I use the past tense in referring to my old friend. I do this in the interests of strict, scientific accuracy, to satisfy those who would contend that, having utterly vanished from sight and sound of man, Harry Wendel is ...
— The Blind Spot • Austin Hall and Homer Eon Flint

... preserved (as it in some dialects still preserves) its broad open vowel, more like law than toe or beau, and unless that be restored I should judge that the verb to know is doomed. The third person singular of its present tense is nose, and its past tense is new, and the whole inconvenience is too radical and perpetual to be received all over the world. We have an occasional escape by using nay for no, since its homophone neigh is an unlikely neighbour; but that can serve only in one limited use of the ...
— Society for Pure English, Tract 2, on English Homophones • Robert Bridges

... retrospective judgments, using the past tense, what these judgments utter WAS true, even tho no past thinker had been led there. We live forwards, a Danish thinker has said, but we understand backwards. The present sheds a backward light on the world's previous processes. They may have been truth-processes for the actors in them. They are ...
— Pragmatism - A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking • William James

... been a man of social ease and wit. The last time I saw him, at the age of eighty-five, in his house in Andover, I thought, one need not say, "has been;" and to recall his brilliant talk that day gives me hesitation over the past tense of this reminiscence. On the whole, with the exception of Doctor Holmes, I think I should call Professor Park the best converser—at least among eminent men—whom ...
— McClure's Magazine, January, 1896, Vol. VI. No. 2 • Various

... in his life which could seriously disturb her; nothing, that was, irrevocable. Which had he been—wise or fortunate, or only trivial? Perhaps, everything considered, merely fortunate; and he wondered how she would have met an infidelity of his? He put his question in the past tense because now, Lee congratulated himself, all the danger was passed: forty-seven, with responsibilities that increased every month in importance, and swiftly growing children; the hair above his ...
— Cytherea • Joseph Hergesheimer

... is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking. The prophets habitually said, "Thus saith the Lord." They meant their hearers to understand that God's speaking is in the continuous present. We may use the past tense properly to indicate that at a certain time a certain word of God was spoken, but a word of God once spoken continues to be spoken, as a child once born continues to be alive, or a world once created continues to exist. And those are but imperfect illustrations, for children ...
— The Pursuit of God • A. W. Tozer

... the past tense also are, I fear, the Christ-tide customs of Wales—the Mari Lhoyd, or Lwyd, answering to the Kentish Hodening, and the Pulgen, or the Crowning of the Cock, which was a simple religious ceremony. About three o'clock on Christmas morning the Welsh in many parts used to assemble in church, ...
— A Righte Merrie Christmasse - The Story of Christ-Tide • John Ashton

... alluded to this event, nor to his prowess in swimming, to me, except in the past tense. He was ill, and kept to his bed ...
— Stories of Authors, British and American • Edwin Watts Chubb

... of explaining that he had made the implication by his use of the past tense, but gave up the idea as involving a waste of energy. "How old is this chap, Banks; ...
— The Jervaise Comedy • J. D. Beresford

... wanted his nephew to believe it no matter what happened. But, as Cristy had pointed out, new brooms had time to become worn and inefficient in twelve years of use. His uncle had been talking in the past tense! He had tried to do what he thought was his duty—at first, when he swept into politics, inspired by the victory over the Rives crowd. Twelve years apparently was a long time to expect an inspiration to burn in the face ...
— Every Man for Himself • Hopkins Moorhouse

... "No; we came with the assistance of the coffee-pot" (rein). The guesser is allowed to make three guesses aloud, but after that he must meditate on the word in silence or put questions to test his theories. If the word is a verb and a past tense or present tense has to be used in an answer, the ...
— What Shall We Do Now?: Five Hundred Games and Pastimes • Dorothy Canfield Fisher

... the past tense of heroes and of knight-errants, but surely their day is not yet passed. When the earth has all been explored, when the last savage has been tamed, when the final cannon has been scrapped, and the world has settled down into unbroken virtue and unutterable dulness, men will cast their thoughts ...
— Through the Magic Door • Arthur Conan Doyle

... cause of the oppressed slaves very soon engaged his attention, and his unwearied exertions in their behalf ceased not till the close of a long and energetic life. In the following quotation, describing the American slave trade, although the past tense is employed by his biographer, yet if Louisiana be substituted for Georgia, the whole representation is true of the present time. That dreadful traffic has increased many fold since the date here alluded to, at which E. Tyson's career ...
— A Visit To The United States In 1841 • Joseph Sturge

... of her. To move seemed impossible to me. Such a sudden transition from warm, vigorous life to cold, impassive death seems to chill the dynamic rivers of being into a horrible winter, static and eternal. Though death puts all things in the past tense, even we physicians cannot but be strangely moved when the soul thus hastily deserts the body without the ...
— The Darrow Enigma • Melvin L. Severy

... to denote an action that happened sometime in the past; as, I finished my work. As no definite time is specified, this is called the /perfect indefinite. It corresponds to the ordinary use of the English past tense. ...
— Latin for Beginners • Benjamin Leonard D'Ooge

... upon the implied tragedy of a life, so young, for which ambition was already in the past tense, as he added: ...
— Success - A Novel • Samuel Hopkins Adams

... of one syllable ending in y preceded by a consonant, change y into ies in the plural; and verbs ending in y, preceded by a consonant, change y into ies in the third person singular of the present tense, and into ied in the past tense and past participle, as, fly, flies; I apply, he applies; we reply, we replied, or have replied. If the y be preceded by a vowel, this rule is not applicable; as key, keys; I play, he plays; we have ...
— Enquire Within Upon Everything - The Great Victorian Domestic Standby • Anonymous

... castle was that of Coila, with its one huge massive tower, and its dark frowning embattled walls. It could be seen from far and near, for even the loch itself was high above the level of the sea. I speak of it, be it observed, in the past tense, solely because I am writing of the past—of happy days for ever fled. The castle is still as beautiful—nay, even more so, for my aunt's good taste has completed the improvements my ...
— Our Home in the Silver West - A Story of Struggle and Adventure • Gordon Stables

... for Unfried, discord, disturbance, any thing in opposition to Frieden or peace. The Frid-stools at Beverley, Ripon, and Hexham, still bear the old theotise stamp. Wart, or ward, may be either the past tense of werden, to be (our was), or an old form of waehren, to endure, to last: our English wear is the same word. The sense is pretty much the same in both readings alluding to Eve. In ...
— Notes & Queries, No. 9, Saturday, December 29, 1849 • Various

... Barker and of the red cab-driver, in the past tense. Alas! Mr. Barker has again become an absentee; and the class of men to which they both belonged is fast disappearing. Improvement has peered beneath the aprons of our cabs, and penetrated to the very innermost ...
— Sketches by Boz - illustrative of everyday life and every-day people • Charles Dickens

... to form the past tense of verbs by analogy produces this amusing result from the ...
— Buchanan's Journal of Man, November 1887 - Volume 1, Number 10 • Various

... do read him," was Charm's frank answer. "I have read him—but my reading is all in the past tense now." ...
— In and Out of Three Normady Inns • Anna Bowman Dodd

... my experience that romance is always in the past tense anyhow. Romance is a commodity that was extremely plentiful last week or last year or last century, but for the moment they are entirely out of it, and can't say with any degree of certainty when a fresh stock will ...
— Roughing it De Luxe • Irvin S. Cobb

... remark here that this business of Louis looks altogether different now, as seen over Seas and at the distance of forty-four years, than it looked then, in France, and struggling, confused all round one! For indeed it is a most lying thing that same Past Tense always: so beautiful, sad, almost Elysian-sacred, 'in the moonlight of Memory,' it seems; and seems only. For observe: always, one most important element is surreptitiously (we not noticing it) withdrawn from the Past Time: the haggard element of Fear! Not there does Fear dwell, ...
— The French Revolution • Thomas Carlyle

... that some American poet will one day be able to write in the past tense similar verses of the barbarity of ...
— Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 7, May, 1858 • Various

... dreadful name, and she was such a beautiful girl and woman," said Sylvia. She already spoke of Abrahama in the past tense. "I wonder where the niece is," ...
— The Shoulders of Atlas - A Novel • Mary E. Wilkins Freeman

... writing in the past tense, I might pause here to consider whether this emotion was a genuine one or a mere figment for literary effect. As I am writing in the present tense, such a pause would be inartistic, and shall not be made. I must seem ...
— Yet Again • Max Beerbohm

... sir, it was by his moral qualities that my friend ever impressed himself most distinctly on all who met him. Alas! that I should be speaking of him in the past tense! He was a man, sir, ...
— The Mayor of Troy • Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch

... opening the worn purple cover, and showing the name, in the Archdeacon's writing. 'He's very fond of it,' she said; 'it is the one he always uses.' (Alas! she had not learnt to speak of him in the past tense.) ...
— The Heir of Redclyffe • Charlotte M. Yonge

... unnoticed until such time as I could summon up sufficient resolution to put an end to my dead life. I had been ambitious—dwelling again amid the bitterness of the months that followed my return, I write in the past tense. I had been eager to make a name, a position for myself. But were I to claim no higher aim, I should be doing injustice to my blood—to the great-souled gentleman whose whole life had been an ode to honour, to ...
— Paul Kelver • Jerome Klapka, AKA Jerome K. Jerome

... not a business man—and a successful one—my position here at the present time is a sufficient proof," she said triumphantly. "And I must also protest," she added, with a faint sigh, "against Mr. Brimmer being spoken of in the past tense by anybody. It is painfully premature ...
— The Crusade of the Excelsior • Bret Harte

... cannot but be missed. That the Greek tenses do not coincide, and cannot be expected to coincide with those of the English verb; that—except in narrative—the aorist as a rule is more exactly represented in English by our perfect with "have" than by our simple past tense; and that in this particular the A.V. is in scores of instances more correct than the R.V.; the present Translator has contended (with arguments which some of the best scholars in Britain and in America hold to be "unanswerable" and "indisputable") in a pamphlet On the Rendering ...
— Weymouth New Testament in Modern Speech, Preface and Introductions - Third Edition 1913 • R F Weymouth

... left behind is there any of that luxuriant vegetation which one instinctively associates with hot countries. In bars in the United States, any one wishing for whisky and water was (I advisedly use the past tense) accustomed to drain a small tumbler of neat whisky, and then to swallow a glass of water. In India everything is arranged on this principle; the whisky and the water are kept quite separate. The dead-flat expanse of the ...
— The Days Before Yesterday • Lord Frederick Hamilton

... to know—(2) if you find the present tense of my Prose Narrative discordant with the past tense of the text. I adopted it partly by way of further discriminating the two: but I may have misjudged: Tell me: as well as any other points that strike you. You can tell me if you will—and I wish you would—whether I had better ...
— Letters of Edward FitzGerald to Fanny Kemble (1871-1883) • Edward FitzGerald



Words linked to "Past tense" :   past, preterite, tense, preterit



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